Do You Really Need to Drink More Water?
When it comes to habits for better health, many experts will urge you to drink more water. In fact, water consumption is such a big deal that one website offers their top 100 apps that help you track your water consumption, and that’s just for iOS. It would seem to be a no-brainer to suggest that we should all drink more water as an act of self-care, but is it true? Is water consumption yet another habit you should be developing and tracking? Let’s find out.
The image I’ve included with this post is deceptive, as is the title. All fluids count as water. That means that milk, juice, soft drinks, wine, and yes, even coffee and tea, all count towards your daily water consumption. Coffee and tea never used to count because they are considered diuretics, but the reality is that they aren’t very powerful diuretics.
Food also counts, and not just water-rich foods like lettuce, oranges, or tomatoes, but all foods. Approximately 20% of your total fluid intake comes from food, including meat and eggs.
Water in Your Body
Almost 60% of your body is water. The water in your body is responsible, among other things, for transporting nutrients, helping you digest food, and maintaining your body temperature.
You lose water through urine, stool, breathing, and evaporation through your skin. Replacing lost fluid is essential to keeping your body in balance. When you put out more fluid than you take in, the result is dehydration.
The Impact of Dehydration
I often eat because I am tired and want to give myself a boost, or because I am in a bad mood, or I think I am hungry. It turns out that any of these can be symptoms of dehydration.
Problems with mood, level of concentration and perception of task difficulty were found in females with even very mild dehydration.
Dehydration makes you feel tired and confused. If you are exercising, mild dehydration affects your stamina, although not your muscle strength.
A headache is a common symptom of dehydration. Drink 2-4 cups of water. If your headache is relieved within an hour or two, it was likely dehydration-based.
When we add in the fact that thirst can be easily mistaken for hunger, insufficient fluid can be a significant problem if you are trying to lose weight.
Water and Weight Loss
While all fluids count when it comes to keeping your body in balance, water is the calorie-free beverage of choice if you are trying to lose weight.
However, the water itself doesn’t do a thing for weight loss. It works because when you are drinking water, you aren’t drinking calorie-laden alternatives. And when you are eating food with high water content, it looks like more food which is satisfying, and it takes longer to eat and absorb so you feel full.
For maximum effect, drink 500 mL or 2 cups of water before a meal. You should find that you lose a bit of weight because you will feel full and will eat less.
Do You Need to Drink More Water?
Drink more water or other fluids if you are constipated or if your urine is concentrated (yellow as opposed to colourless) and smelly. Other reasons for taking in more fluid include:
- sweating a lot
- hot, dry weather
- when you are ill, specifically vomiting or with diarrhea
- if you are elderly, because your thirst instinct isn’t totally reliable
Otherwise, probably not. The old 8×8 (8 eight-ounce glasses of water) should be fluids not water, and there is no scientific evidence to support the claim. Instead, most of us can rely on the fact that when the water content in our bodies goes below a certain level, our thirst instinct will kick in.
I never drink water. I am afraid it will become habit-forming.W.C. Fields
This was a bit of an unusual self-care post. Normally I’m encouraging you to do something that’s good for your body, mind or spirit. This time I’m certainly supporting fluid intake, especially to prevent dehydration, but my main focus is on reassuring you that here’s at least one oft-touted routine that you do NOT need to implement, track,or feel guilty about not implementing and tracking! And I, for one, am relieved.
How about you? Have you been tracking water consumption? Will you continue? What’s your fluid of choice? Mine is peppermint tea until I’m drowning in it and then, if I’m at a restaurant, I’ll jump the track for an occasional sugar-laden soft drink.